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Annan suspends talks to end Kenya crisis, says he will speak to leaders
Mediator Kofi Annan announces at a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008 the suspension of negotiations on Kenya's post-election crisis. Annan, who delivered a sharp rebuke to both sides a day earlier, said he would now speak to President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga personally to try to reinvigorate talks. The two have been under international pressure to share power to move the country beyond their standoff over Dec. 27 presidential elections. - photo by Associated Press
    NAIROBI, Kenya — Mediator Kofi Annan suspended negotiations on Kenya’s deadly postelection crisis and said Tuesday he would personally appeal for a power-sharing deal because talks were ‘‘turning around in circles.’’
    Annan said he would consult with President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who are being pressed to share power and move Kenya beyond a dispute over who won the Dec. 27 presidential election.
    International and local monitors say the ballot results were manipulated, making it unclear who actually won.
    Annan said he suspended the talks in order ‘‘to speed up action,’’ as the negotiating teams ‘‘were discussing issues that the parties seemed incapable of solving. We were turning around in circles.’’
    Postelection violence has largely subsided in recent weeks, but attacks that killed more than 1,000 people and forced 600,000 from their homes have left the country on edge and worried about the potential for more turmoil. The bloodshed has tarnished the reputation of a country once seen as a beacon of stability in Africa.
    International pressure on the two sides has been mounting. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited Kenya earlier this month to urge progress, said the U.S. relationship with any future Kenyan political leadership is at stake.
    ‘‘I want to emphasize that the future of our relationship with both sides and their legitimacy hinges on their cooperation to achieve this political solution,’’ Rice said in a statement, without elaborating.
    Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula criticized Rice’s statement, saying the international community is welcome to make suggestions ‘‘but not to impose solutions.’’
    The United States was disappointed that talks had had to be suspended, and will review the ‘‘full range of options’’ it might take, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said. He declined to discuss any specifics.
    The delays have frustrated Kenyans, many of whom have seen their jobs and homes destroyed in the chaos.
    ‘‘It is Raila and Kibaki alone who can solve this thing,’’ said Ronnie Mdwawida, a 39-year-old social worker in the capital, Nairobi. ‘‘The future of Kenya is at the mercy of these two leaders.’’
    Negotiators for Kibaki and Odinga have agreed in principle to create a new prime minister’s post for the opposition, but sticking points remain over just how much power such a post would carry.
    Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said he objected to Annan’s decision to suspend talks.
    ‘‘We were making progress until tempers flared in the afternoon, but this is part of negotiations,’’ he said.
    Opposition negotiator Musalia Mudavadi said his party remains committed to the talks. ‘‘They have been suspended, and if the timing is right and we are required to get back to the negotiating table, we shall be there,’’ he said.
    Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, meanwhile, filed papers Monday giving police the required three days’ notice for mass rallies planned Thursday, raising fears of bloodshed. Past rallies turned violent as police pushed back the crowds.
    The government on Tuesday urged Kenyans to boycott the rallies.
    Throughout the talks, low-level unrest has continued and Kenya’s economy has struggled to recover from a severe drop in tourist dollars during the high season.
    Adding more international pressure for a deal, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the current head of the African Union, arrived in Nairobi on Tuesday to support the mediation process and meet with all sides.
    Associated Press writers Tom Maliti, Heidi Vogt and Tom Odula contributed to this report.

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